Scotland has long enjoyed a reputation for punching above its weight when it comes to innovation and leadership – you just need to look at the lengthy list of inventors, physicians and scientists whose creations and discoveries have earned their country a place in the history books.
But this incredible record isn’t ready to be consigned to history quite yet, and this year’s ScotSoft conference on 5 October is set to demonstrate precisely why. I am pleased to be speaking at the event (Scotland’s annual celebration of all things digital tech) alongside an inspiring line-up of innovators, developers and business leaders, who together, provide a snapshot of this dynamic Scottish industry.
Scotland’s success in the digital space places it leaps ahead of many nations in terms of entrepreneurship, investment and growth. Together, innovative businesses such as Skyscanner, FanDuel and Freeagent, as well as dedicated business spaces and skills groups such as Codebase and Codeclan, paint a picture of momentum and optimism that the digital tech sector is here to stay and more importantly, grow.
What’s more, the headlines highlight the important contribution digital and tech businesses are making towards their country. For example, recent reports have predicted that Scotland’s digital sector is forecast to grow twice as fast as the Scottish economy overall in the years to 2024 and that it already accounts for 5 per cent of Scotland’s total business base. What’s more, this is generating demand for digital skills with almost 13,000 jobs being advertised annually.
CityFibre, as the digital infrastructure provider behind Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and most recently, Stirling’s transformation into Gigabit Cities, is hugely optimistic about the future of Scotland’s digital tech industry. I’m really excited that we’re playing a part in shaping this evolving landscape by laying the foundations for sustainable growth in the form of full-fibre.
Quality digital connectivity is the lynchpin of the digital technology sector and, as a consequence, the economy in its widest sense given its well documented contribution to local and national GVA, job creation and new business start-ups. As the growth of this industry increases at pace, more businesses and tech entrepreneurs are demanding better speeds, bandwidth, security, latency, reliability and flexibility to deliver their needs. Accordingly, full-fibre must be the standard for Scotland if businesses are not to be held back by the copper infrastructure many still rely on today.
We’re already seeing growing demand for office space in Edinburgh and Glasgow where the majority of businesses have access to each cities’ gigabit speed, full-fibre network. What this demonstrates is the fact that future-proofed, next-generation connectivity is not only vital to help existing businesses grow, it provides an effective ‘pull’ for new start-ups and inward investment.
With the recent launch of the Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund and plans to introduce business rates relief for fibre investment, the UK government is starting to realise the value of this type of connectivity.
So, after decades of copper dependency, Gigabit Britain is starting to emerge. For Scotland, this means copper-based connectivity will cease to stand in its way as it nurtures its legacy as a nation of true innovation and entrepreneurial grit.
Greg Mesch is CEO at CityFibre